Friday, June 24, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

My ViewIndependence Day: Resurgence  (2016)  PG-13  Two decades after the first alien invasion on Independence day, the Earth is facing a new attack. It’s time to see if Earth is ready for another fight. The 1996 film Independence Day was a fun movie to watch with great special effects (won an Academy Award for them), goofy lines, and actors like Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum chewing up scenery like there is no tomorrow. While not a bad movie, this film just isn’t as much fun as the original. I think some of it has to do with the fact the 1996 movie was our time, our world.  In this film, the world has had twenty years to adapt to alien technology and has united in its quest to prepare for the alien invasion part 2. It was fun watching Will Smith fly a 20th-century fighter jet against aliens. Old school technology defeated new tech. Now it’s not our world but a parallel universe, so it’s not us defeating the aliens. I will say that both Pullman and Goldblum give it their all, but some of the new cast, including Liam Hemsworth, just don’t have the star power that Will Smith had. The film was not shot in 3-D, so save some money and see it in 2-D.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Independence Day: Resurgence Website
My ViewFree State of Jones  (2016)  R   During the Civil War, a Mississippi farmer (Matthew McConaughey) decides to quit the Southern army and lead a rebellion against the Confederate army. While watching this film, I looked at my watch thinking the film was about fifteen minutes away from ending. Instead, to my despair, it had only been playing for an hour, and we had an hour and twenty minutes to go. The film is incredibly slow placed. Even the dialogue seems slow people make speech after speech in this movie. There are very few action sequences, and the best one is used in the trailer, so the element of surprise is gone when you watch the scene.  Over the past ten years, Matthew McConaughey has become one of my favorite actors, but he isn’t given much to work with in this role. I didn’t recognize Keri Russell, who plays McConaughey’s wife, until near the end of the film. There is a strange side story that is set in the 1950’s that makes the film stop and start with glaring suddenness and almost no explanation.  If you want to explore that time, rent 12 Years a Slave (2013) or wait until The Birth of a Nation (2016) comes out later this year.     My Rating: Cable   Free State of Jones Website   
IndiefestThe Neon Demon  (2016)  R   Jesse (Elle Fanning) is an aspiring model who has just moved to Los Angeles. She knew that the modeling world would be harsh, but she didn’t know that it could threaten her life. I am not a fan of writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn’s films Drive (2011), which I gave a Cable rating, and Only God Forgives (2013), which I gave a You Would Have to Pay Me to See It Again. This film is all style over substance.  It’s a beautiful looking film, and some of the scenes in this movie are breathtaking, but the storyline is slow, meaningless and confusing. I usually like Elle Fanning’s performances, but she comes off dull and lifeless. Keanu Reeves and Christina Hendricks are both wasted in very small, unimportant parts. The only performance that has some life to it is the one by Jena Malone, who plays a makeup artist who befriends Jesse. Several people walked out of our screening during scenes of necrophilia and cannibalism.    My Rating: Cable   The Neon Demon Website
IndiefestArt Bastard  (2016)   A documentary that tells the fascinating story of New York painter Robert Cenedella, a contemporary of Andy Warhol. It’s an intriguing story of family secrets, money, fame and an artist who refuses to compromise.  I thoroughly enjoyed this film about one of the art world’s most talented and outspoken artists.  Cenedella doesn’t just paint for painting sake; he makes commentary on life inside his paintings. His paintings are full of satire and often use his beloved New York City as the setting of his work. The film does a superb job of showing us Cenedella’s artistic ability, where the camera goes in tight on his paintings (most of which are enormous) so that we see each and every face in crowds.  Cenedella is a fascinating man, with a rich history of stories about his life and his work. Art Bastard does a wondrous job of letting us get to know the artist’s work and his life.    My Rating: Full Price   Art Bastard Website
My View: The Shallows (2016)   PG-13   A young pro surfer, Nancy (Blake Lively), takes a break from medical school and surfs on a secluded beach in Mexico. The beach and the waves are perfect; that is until an enormous great white shark attacks Nancy. She takes refuge on a rock 200 yards from shore and must now figure out show to outfox the shark and get back to shore in one piece. This is a splendid thriller/escape genre film with a little dash of suspense/thrills mixed in. This movie is a death match between Blake Lively’s character and a massive shark that is pissed off and isn't leaving anytime soon. The film moves at a swift pace, and the action sequences (though a little unbelievable) are fun and thrilling to watch. I enjoyed Lively’s performance, as she looks the part of a surfer girl that has the guts and the smarts to survive. If you liked Jaws and it’s shark, then see his great grandchild terrorize a young woman in Mexico. Nancy doesn’t need a bigger boat, just a larger surfboard.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The Shallows Website
Forgotten FilmRachel, Rachel  (1968)  R  Rachel (Joanne Woodward) is a 35-year-old school teacher who has never been married, doesn’t have a man in her life and she still lives with her mother.  When Nick (James Olson), an old high school friend, comes back into town, her world starts crumbling.  This is a very stark and understated film about taking chances and learning from your mistakes. Woodward is brilliant as the downtrodden school teacher who can’t win for losing, which makes us fall in love with her, hoping that she will succeed in life. Woodward’s dazzling performance was undoubtedly aided by the fact that her husband, Paul Newman, directed the film.  My Rating: Full Price   Rachel, Rachel website   

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Free State of Jones: Hair Puncher

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Life, Animated (2016)  R   A documentary about an autistic boy and his family who learn to communicate with each through the animated films of Disney.  The film was a big hit at the Sundance Film Festival, and I have not seen one bad review. This beautiful, touching film has been winning audience awards at a number of film festivals.   Life, Animated Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Finding Dory

Family FaireFinding Dory  (2016)   PG  It’s been six months since the gangs last adventure, and suddenly Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) remembers stuff from her childhood. She remembers something about “the Jewel of Morro Bay. Dory takes off on an another adventure with Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (Albert Brooks) in tow, this time, to find her family. While not as perfect as Finding Nemo was, it’s still a beautiful, funny and touching film that has an incredibly meaningful message about overcoming disabilities by having faith in yourself and your ability to persevere. Both kids and adults are going to fall in love with this film, and the 3-D animation is worth the extra bucks. There is a whole host of new characters in this movie with Ed O’Neil as a crusty octopus being the standout. This film has lots of heart, and you just might find yourself seeing it more than once. There is a small bonus scene after all the credits, and I really enjoyed the short film, Piper, about a baby bird learning to eat on his own that played before the feature film.   My Rating: Full Price    Finding Dory Website
IndiefestGenius  (2016)  PG-13  The story of Max Perkins (Colin Firth), who worked for the famous publishing house Scribner, oversaw  some of the greats writers of all time, including Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West)  and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce.) Now a new author is on the scene, Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law), and Max is going to be challenged like never before. I enjoyed this film about the close and sometimes contentious relationship between brilliant writer and his equally brilliant editor. It’s a unique partnership, and Firth and Law are up to the task. Law portrays Wolfe as a man who is so full of life that he can’t contain himself, Firth portrays Max as an almost the exact opposite, a man who is fully in control of himself and his surroundings, his only quirk is that he rarely takes off his hat. Both men are brilliant in the roles. Law chews up scenery like it’s his passion and that ok for this part, as Wolfe was a larger than life personality that commanded and demanded attention. Firth is perfect as the restrained Max, who only wants his writers to produce their best work and is willing to give it his all to see that they do. My only quibble with this film is the part that Nicole Kidman plays. She portrays the lover and benefactor of Wolfe, and it seems that her part is there only to move to plot along at times or to show what the future of Max’s relationship with Wolfe will be, but that’s a minor aspect of the film. What this movie does the best is show us the incredible talent that Thomas Wolfe had, letting his words just flow on the screen. If you love books and reading, this is a film that you will want to explore. My Rating:  Full Price   Genius Website
IndiefestDe Palma  (2016)  R  This is a documentary about the writer and director, Brian De Palma, who directed some of the greatest films of the Twentieth century including Carrie and The Untouchables.  I have never been a big fan of Brian De Palma’s movies, though I do like The Untouchables and Sisters is one of my Forgotten Films, but I enjoyed this documentary and found it fascinating as De Palma goes through his entire career. He is extremely frank and probably hurts quite a few filmmakers and especially, some actors feelings. De Palma has always been accused of ripping off the work of Alfred Hitchcock and in this film he basically says, “yeah, so what?” The film goes back and explores this concept throughout his career, and we do see how much he was influenced by Hitchcock, especially what many consider his masterpiece, Vertigo. I have much more respect for De Palma and his craft because he never sold out to Hollywood but always stayed true to his work. Even if you aren’t a movie buff, you will thoroughly enjoy this documentary about a fascinating man who loved his work.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   De Palma Website
Forgotten FilmThe Last American Hero  (1973)  PG  Junior (Jeff Bridges) is a bootlegger who works alongside his brother (Gary Busey)  for their father (Art Lund).  When Junior’s dad is arrested, Junior decides to go on the racing circuit to make some money. There are some thrilling races in this film and Bridges gives a sizzling performance as the brash Junior.  The supporting cast works well in this movie, especially Valerie Perrine, who plays a girl that’s never met a stock car driver she did like.  It’s a fun story that works because of the winning performances of the cast.  My Rating: Full Price    The Last American Hero Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Finding Dory: Music Copyist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Legend of Tarzan (2016)  PG-13  Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) is called back home to Africa when he hears of natives being treated unfairly by a mining company.  As a kid, I read every book that Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of Tarzan) wrote, so I am looking forward to this film. Plus, the film has a killer cast including Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Djimon Hounsou, and Jim Broadbent.   Legend of Tarzan Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Conjuring 2

My View The Conjuring 2  (2016)  Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) head to North London to battle malicious spirits that are terrorizing a single mom and her four kids. I loved the first film because it truly was scary and had some great acting, both rare for horror films. While this movie is a slight letdown from the first, it still delivers scary scenes, and it still has Farmiga and Wilson in the lead roles. The film stalls a little in the middle, but the opening and closing scenes are chilling and move at a quick pace. Vera Farmiga gives a stunning performance as the paranormal investigator who can talk to the spirits and demons that terrorize families and homes. If you like horror films. this is the one for you.  You will be in for a wild ride.    My Rating;  Full Price    The Conjuring 2 Website
My ViewNow You See Me 2  (2016)  It’s been eighteen months since the Four Horsemen stole all that money from a Paris bank. They decide to make a comeback appearance, but their plans are thwarted by a tech prodigy (Daniel Radcliffe). He threatens to kill them if they don’t pull off a major heist. I liked the first film, mostly for the magic scenes which I thought were creative and fun. That’s the problem with this film: it’s a movie about magicians that doesn’t have any magic in it. The closest to believable magic in the movie is when the cast throws a playing card around during a heist. The film is boring, predictable and just not much fun. I did enjoy Lizzy Caplan’s performance as Isla Fisher’s replacement in the “Four Horsemen” because she looks like the only one in the cast who is having a good time. Most of the cast look like they are just going through the motions for a big paycheck. It makes me wonder if Isla Fisher didn’t really appear in the film because she was pregnant but because it was such a bad script.    My Rating: Cable    Now You See Me 2 Website
IndiefestMaggie’s Plan  (2016)  Maggie’s (Greta Gerwig) life turns upside down when she falls for a “ficto-critical anthropologist” named, John (Ethan Hawke), who is in an unhappy marriage with Georgette (Julianne Moore). John leaves Georgette, but soon Maggie realizes that John just might not be the man for her. She hatches a plan to get Georgette and John back together. While Maggie’s Plan is rarely laughing out loud funny, it is a sly, humorous look at a modern-day woman and the choices she makes in her life. Julianne Moore is priceless as John’s wife, Georgette, who has a personality full of hostility that dominates everything in the room. I am sure that Rebecca Miller wrote this film with Greta Gerwig in mind because I would have a hard time with anyone else in the role. Gerwig has great comedic timing that the movie uses to the utmost. She gives us a memorable performance where she commands you to concentrate on her character even when you have scene stealers like Rudolph and Moore up on the screen. Gerwig gives a performance that, while sweet, doesn’t go overboard, making us root for Maggie even more. Maggie’s Plan is a funny and surprisingly moving film that capitalizes on sharp, witty writing and cast that gives us as a pleasurable and gratifying film centered around a woman. We need more of these type of films, and I hope Rebecca Miller keeps giving them to us.   My Rating: Full Price     Maggie's Plan Website
Indiefest:  Dheepan  (2015)  Dheepan (Jesuthasan Antonythasan) leaves his life as a Tamil Tiger soldier during the last days of the Sri Lankan Civil War. He buys the passport of a dead man and, along with a woman (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) he doesn’t know and her child, travels to France to start over. There he gets a job as a caretaker of a building in a housing project that turns out is its own war zone.  Jesuthasan Antonythasan and Kalieaswari Srinivasan give moving performances that are multi-layered and thrilling to watch. The film is full of brilliant slices of life in an area of Paris that feels more like a war zone than a suburb. This is a film that will stay with you for days because it’s a movie that has complex issues at every turn of the story, and those issues don’t really have a solution. This is a fascinating film that keeps you guessing until the end.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again    Dheepan Website
Forgotten FilmStay Hungry (1976)  The mob has bought every house in a district to rebuild it. Every building is purchased but one, a small gym where Mr. Austria Joe Santo (Arnold Schwarzenegger) prepares for a major body building competition. Jeff Bridges plays a rich kid named, Craig, who is brought in to be a patsy to buy the gym. He quickly likes the people in the gym, especially Joe’s friend, Marie (Sally Field). He decides to stand up to the mob with the help of his new found bodybuilding friends. While not a great film, it was the director, Bob Rafelson’s favorite film because they had so much fun making it. Bridges and Field are a delight to watch and have great chemistry. Arnold isn’t the best actor in this film, but it’s fun to see him in his bodybuilding prime.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Stay Hungry Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Now You See Me 2:  Charge Hand Dressing Prop

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouSwiss Army Man (2016)  A man (Paul Dano) is stranded in the wilderness and finds a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) he uses to help him get back home. This film looks and sounds so weird that it has to be seen.    Swiss Army Man Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

My ViewPopstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)  R  Conner4Real (Andy Samberg) is a world-famous recording artist. A documentary team follows Conner as he undergoes the reuniting with his old boy band, “The Style Boyz.” If you are a fan of the Lonely Island videos that pop up from time to time on Saturday Night Live, then you will love this film because it’s really one long music video. The music videos that Lonely Island usually does are funny, but there just isn’t enough material to fill out an 87 minute movie. There are some very funny bits in this film, but they are too few and far between to keep the film moving. I did enjoy the numerous cameos by a whole host of musical stars. I especially enjoyed the performances of Mariah Carey and Usher. About half-way through the film I was hoping that Popstar would just stop. My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Website   

IndiefestMe Before You  (2016)  PG-13  Lou (Emilia Clarke) has lost her job, and there aren’t a lot of prospects in her small town. She is forced to get a job as a caretaker for Will (Sam Claflin), who is wheelchair-bound after a motorcycle accident. This career move will change both their lives forever. Be sure to bring lots of tissues because you are going to need it. I really enjoyed this film, mostly due to the impressive and highly likable performance by Emilia Clarke. She lights up the screen and is an absolute delight to watch. There is a marvelous chemistry between Clarke and Claflin, making their attraction to each other seem real and believable. The storyline is sweet but also sad, so be warned. My Rating: Full Price   Me Before You Website

IndiefestDark Horse  (2015)  PG  In an old mining town in Wales, a group of friends decide to take on the elite “sport of kings” and breed themselves a racehorse, a horse named, “Dream Alliance”. “Dark Horse” isn't just about horse racing, it's about the power of animals to help us heal, to feel better and bring people together. It's an uplifting film that will bring a tear to your eye from time to time. It's also a “Rocky” tale of a working class group of people taking a “working class” horse, that has no way of winning in the high-price stakes of racing, and turning their world on its ears, because not only does this horse win, it wins big. I loved this warm and uplifting film. The love between the horse and its owners is almost overpowering. Each and every one of them felt that Dream was part of the family. “Dark Horse” is about beating the odds and, as long as you believe in yourself, you can succeed. If you like rooting for the underdog or the little guy, this is the film for you. “Dark Horse” is a winner no matter how he places in the race.   My Rating: Full Price   Dark Horse Facebook Page    

IndiefestPresenting Princess Shaw  (2015)  Documentary about a young woman from New Orleans whose songs on YouTube are turned into viral hits by an Israeli composer/video artist Kutiman. Princess Shaw was a wannabe singer who worked at a nursing home. She posted videos of her singing but had only twenty followers. One of her videos is seen by a world famous video artist who turns her song into a music video. There is a great scene in the film when she realizes that someone has taken her song and people are watching it. Her joyful reaction is just beautiful to watch. If you enjoy music and wonder how some of the YouTube music videos are made, this film is for you.  My Rating:  Full Price   Presenting Princess Shaw Website

Forgotten FilmStraight Time  (1978)  R  Max (Dustin Hoffman) is a lifetime criminal. He gets released from prison and decides to go on the straight and narrow. The world seems determined to make sure that Max doesn’t succeed, but soon, Max is back to his criminal ways. Hoffman is brilliant as the doomed Max, and he is helped by an outstanding supporting cast including M. Emmet Walsh as a creepy parole officer who is determined to make sure Max doesn’t find a job. This is a gritty look at the world of a criminal and how hard it is for someone to overcome their past.   My Rating: Full Price   Straight Time Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Me Before You:  Weather Consultant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Free State of Jones  (2016)  R  During the Civil War, a Mississippi farmer (Matthew McConaughey) decides to quit the Southern army and lead a rebellion against the Confederate army.  It is interesting how I used to detest McConaughey’s movies and now I can’t wait to see them.   Free State of Jones Website
Until Next Time!